Monday, June 16, 2014

Off to Middle School!

I can't believe I typed the title of this post.

I can't believe Anna Cate's elementary school years are over.

Kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade and fifth grade.  Puff!  Gone!

Anna Cate when she started 1st grade at REES!

Three years ago it seemed like this day was still far away, but now the time has come.  We say goodbye to the school that welcomed us with open arms five years ago.  We say goodbye to our comfort zone.  And we say goodbye to a dear friend of Anna Cate's who is moving this summer.

Last week was filled with many fifth grade festivities and I was at the school every day….but Friday (except for pick up from half day!).  Fifth grade talent show, State Fair, Fifth Grade Awards and Market Day for Betsie's class.  It was a very busy week.  It was also a week where I was filled with worry and anxiety for Anna Cate.  It was a week I prayed a lot and let my faith and strength in the Lord get me through.  And He did!

It was a week full of smiles and laughs and this is what I prayed for.  I wanted Anna Cate to have the time of her life during her last week of not only school, but her last week in elementary school.  I wanted her to end her fifth grade year with a bang!

When Anna Cate started at her elementary school in first grade, I remember stating in our first IEP meeting that it didn't matter to me if she learned anything educational.  All I wanted was for her to be well liked by her peers, for her to be respected by her peers, for her to have friendships and be included.  If she learned along the way, then that was icing on the cake!  To say she knocked it out of the park is an understatement!!!!

Honor Roll all 4 marking periods this year!!!  (This is a picture from the last day of school of Anna Cate's and Betsie's certificates!)

Looking back on the last five years brings both joy and sadness to my heart, I am not going to lie.  I often think "what could have been" if Rett hadn't taken over my little girl.  I used to have these thoughts a lot more before my relationship with God changed (post on this topic coming soon).  While a part of me will always be sad for Anna Cate and what could have been, I have learned to focus on who she is and where she is going.  And in doing so, I see the amazing young lady she is becoming and how far she has come.  The little girl who in kindergarten could not sit still for more than FIVE minutes at a time (if that!!!), sat through a two hour talent show, a one hour State class presentation AND a two hour award assembly this week!!!!

For her fifth grade talent show her three best friends wanted her to be a part of their dance to the song Happy.  I was a bit nervous as Rett has taken over Anna Cate's mobility and her balance is a bit off some days.  I didn't know how she would respond to the dance.  The girls really wanted her to be a part of the dance so they incorporated Anna Cate in her cruiser in the routine!  Up until days before my anxiety set it, but I just prayed and let God take over my worry and let him carry her through the talent show.  There is just one word to describe how I felt watching her on stage…in front of the WHOLE student body….HAPPY!

Start of the dance!  AC in the middle!

The next day was the State Fair for the fifth grade and Anna Cate's State was Maine.  She had to pick a person from Maine to do a report on and dress like and Anna Cate chose Anna Kendrick (she sang the song "Cups" from Pitch Perfect).  Anna Cate was a perfect Anna Kendrick and enjoyed sharing her project with her peers.  She equally enjoyed watching and listening to her peers share their presentations too!
Anna Cate looking like Anna Kendrick from "Cups" Video for the State Fair Parade. (that is flour on her shirt like Anna K had on in the video)

 Anna Kendrick from "Cups" Video.

Waiting patiently listening to peers!

Anna Cate's turn….

Wednesday was my day to cheer on Betsie and her two friends, Lauren and Jenna as they sold Lip Balm at Market Day.  These girls had the top selling product in the two classes that participated and they worked really hard!

Eli didn't have any activities this week where parents were asked to be in attendance, so luckily it gave me extra time to be other places!
Just because he is cute and silly, here is a picture of him on the last day of school…off to first grade!

Thursday was a big day….not only was it Fifth Grade Awards, it was also Will's 40th Birthday!  When I got up at my normal time of 4:30am, after I spent time in prayer, I decorated the kitchen with about 20 big (40 signs) to surprise Will when he came down for breakfast.  He also had some yummy Dixie Donuts waiting for him…just 4, not 40!

Looking good for a 40 year old!
He had a scavenger hunt around the house in the afternoon to look for 40 gifts!

Presents  #11-23!!

Funny and practical gifts…we had fun!

When I dropped the kids off at school, I just stayed to get seats for the awards ceremony.  It wasn't long before the gym was full and the kids were walking in by class.  Anna Cate's class was the first to walk in and yes, Anna Cate did too!  This is where I see Rett taking a toll on my little girl.  This is where I see it the most.  As the class walked in there was a big gap in the middle and that is when I realized it was Anna Cate and Amy walking in.  The kids stayed in their line and didn't walk around her, but let her have her time to walk in too….just like them.  This made me very proud of our school and the children my kids go to school with!   It took almost the full two hours to give out all the awards.  Anna Cate was a proud recipient of three awards!  And proud she was and should be of herself!  She worked very hard this year!!!!

Right after walking in….someone is really excited!

Receiving her first award

All smiles!

After the awards ceremony!

D, came to see her graduate…Amy's husband.  This smile says it all!

Anna Cate and one of her favorite teachers!!!

"We're outta here!!!"

Me and my middle schooler!!!

Thursday evening the fifth grade had their graduation party at school.  Awesome Amy took Anna Cate so she could celebrate with her peers!

Friends with their principal (can you spot Anna Cate)

Her friends make her so happy!

Next year is going to be a year of transitions for sure.  A year of getting a new group of teachers and therapists used to Anna Cate and Anna Cate used to them.  Another school to show how with patience and confidence Anna Cate will excel.  Luckily for us, but more importantly for Anna Cate, Amy is going to middle school with her.  Amy is to Anna Cate, like Anne Sullivan was to Helen Keller.  It is a bond.  A friendship.  Built on trust and believing.

On the last day of school I took Anna Cate and two of her bffs out to lunch, a little shopping and to get frozen yogurt before hanging out at our house.  To say it was an amazing afternoon is an understatement!  I had the BEST time!  These girls love Anna Cate and understand her!  They know how to help her.  They want to help her!

At lunch they asked if she could sit in between them leaving me to have the whole other side of the booth to myself!  They took turns and wanted to help her eat.  How many 11 year old girls do you know who would not only want to do this for a friend, but have the comfort level and confidence to do this?  And not worry about what ANYONE thinks!  This is huge especially since we are approaching the middle school years.  I pray every day these amazing ladies stay true to themselves like they are today.  They saw friends walk in from others schools and introduced them to Anna Cate….and their friends already knew Anna Cate from them talking about her!  This made me feel so happy as a parent and I know it made Anna Cate feel special too!

Maddie, Anna Cate and Kyla…..Kyla is the one who is moving :(((( 

After lunch we went to look for matching picture frames for the girls.  I took this picture below of them at the awards ceremony and wanted to get frames for everyone.

Maddie, Anna Cate and Kyla

They had fun picking out a matching color and then we decided to go to Target too to finish digesting lunch before we headed to get fro-yo!  I love how the girls will use any opportunity to make Anna Cate laugh!

I just love this picture of Anna Cate, Kyla and Maddie.  I think why I love it so much is that you can not tell that Anna Cate has a neurological disorder…she looks like a typical 5th grader.  What this picture didn't capture was moments before, the girls were truly showing the amazing friendship they have.  Kyla was helping Anna Cate eat her fro-yo and Maddie was giving Kyla spoonfuls of her fro-yo!  It was the cutest thing….it was heartfelt….it truly was a sweet treat!

(left to right….Anna Cate, Maddie and Kyla)

Did we end 5th grade on a good note?  Absolutely!

Can I look back on Anna Cate's elementary school years and say they were happy times?  Absolutely!

Am I nervous for the start of middle school?  Absolutely!

But I know I will put my trust in the Lord and give him all my worries  And He will carry me through it.  He was there for me the last five years, He was there for me last week and He will be there for me during middle school.

"A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there"- Anonymous

"Do small things with great love"- Mother Theresa

"Friendship isn't about who you've known the longest.  It's about who walked into your life, said "I'm here for you", and proved it. "- Anonymous

"Let your faith be bigger than your fear"

Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or troubled.  The Lord your God is with you wherever you go- Joshua 1:9

I sought the Lord and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears- Psalm 34:4

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